We went out to celebrate a birthday and we met another couple at a chain restaurant located in a very large shopping mall. They were doing quite a bustling business, and that particular mall, I am sure has survived all that has been tossed at them for the last almost two years. After we were seated and they handed us the menu and the wine list, I was telling them stories about how we were having difficulties at a restaurant getting some French wines, so I figured that I was going to stay with a domestic wine. There was a Pinot Noir that we just picked up a six pack for the house from our wine shop, that I was very pleased with, and even in a restaurant the price was reasonable. I asked our waitress what the asterisk after the wine designated and she said that it was one of the most popular wines in the chain and they always had the wine. She returned rather sheepishly and said that they were out of the wine, Déjà vu? I saw a California Merlot that I had heard about, and she went to get it, she came back and told us that the beverage manager was getting it, because it was way in the back. She sheepishly came back again and told us the wine was not available and she had a different bottle and told me that the wine was a bit more expensive, but it was just like the wine that I asked for, and I told her that it was the same grape, but it was from a different state. I told her to leave the bottle and have the manager stop by.
We had a wine that was going to work. We started by ordering some appetizers, they ordered a Mexico City Spinach Con Queso with tortilla chips and we ordered an Avocado Bomb with Hawaiian tuna, crab salad, avocado, unagi sauce and Sriracha mayonnaise with tortilla chips. The other three ordered a Caesar Steak salad off of the special menu for the day. I went with one of the specialties of the chain and got some Baby Back Ribs and the waitress told me, that they don’t have the ribs, so I ordered a Crispy Chicken Platter and I got breaded chicken tenders. It was food.
Eventually the Beverage Manager appeared with a “Sharpie” in his hand, and I asked him why they couldn’t either draw lines through the wines that they don’t have or just print a current wine list, and he informed me that “Corporate” would not allow either option. He told me that there was a total bottle neck at the ports on the west coast and they couldn’t get their orders. I was surprised to hear that California and Washington use cargo ships to ship wine domestically. We had The Hogue Cellars “Genesis” Merlot Columbia Valley 2014. The Hogue Cellars were founded in 1982 in the Columbia Valley of Washington State. The wine carries the larger designation, as the fruit is harvested from Wahluke Slope, Horse Heaven Hills, and Yakima Valley, as well as Columbia Valley. The grapes began fermentation in Stainless Steel and then aged for six to twelve months in American Oak, of which twenty-five percent was new. The wine is basically Merlot, with some Syrah, Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon added to round it out. The wine offered notes of red fruits with cinnamon and vanilla. On the palate it was full and rounded with black cherry, vanilla and pepper; and a nice medium finish of oak. Our company and the wine were the high point of the meal for me.